Moral identity as a lens for interpreting honesty of indirect leaders

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This study extends the moral identity literature to show how followers' moral identity acts as a perceptual filter of leaders' honesty. Participants witnessed political leaders either lying or telling the truth in an experiment. Followers were more satisfied with honest leaders, and this effect was moderated by followers' moral identity: the more central morality was to followers' self-identity, the more negatively they rated leaders who lied. In contrast, moral identity was unrelated to satisfaction with the leaders who told the truth. The finding contributes to the moral identity literature by showing how moral identity acts as a perceptual filter that heightens awareness of the situation. It has implications for the leader integrity and more general leadership literature by indicating that follower characteristics are important antecedents to perceptions. Contrary to expectations, no similar moderating impact of value congruence with the leader was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-65
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Change Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • honesty
  • integrity
  • Leadership
  • lying
  • moral identity
  • trust
  • value congruence


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